I’ve been spending a bunch of time thinking about where I want this blog to go from here. Now that I’m all healed up (for the most part, there’s still the occasional ping of pain), my hysterectomy is not really going to make for fun or informational blog posts (but, if you ever have a question, please ask; I’m happy to help in any way I can!).
So, I’ve decided I’m going to do what I do – or maybe say “write what I do.” This will be something of a mishmash of everything in my life. The good (Makeup! Painting! Feminism! Grad School!), the bad (PTSD! Anxiety! My shitty immune system!), and the neutral (My…uh, dating life?).
At the beginning of the summer, I promised myself that I would make some major changes in my life. I came up with a three-pronged plan: improve my physical wellness, improve my mental wellness, and improve my spiritual wellness. I plan on devoting at least a blog to each one of these, starting off with physical wellness.
There are of course the basics of physical wellness that we all seem to want to improve, and I’m not ignoring those areas. I want at least 30 minutes of cardio three times a week. I also want at least 30 minutes of yoga three times a week (though that crosses into the spiritual wellness prong, too). These are fairly common goals, and usually good ones. Notice I’m not trying to lose weight or reach a certain dress size; that stuff, and why I’m avoiding it, goes under the mental wellness prong.
Save for an asthma flare that has kept me from any heavy cardio (and the bouts of laziness that like to consume me), these goals are starting to become habits. Thankfully, this is all happening before grad school gets going, so I can be ready for that major change and still keep my physical wellness going.
With all of this talk of cardio and exercise, there is one physical side that I realized I’ve been avoiding: sexual wellness. Yes folks, sex does actually does involve the body and there is a wellness side to doing the deed too.
But my circumstances are somewhat atypical. I’m a 25 year old sorta-virgin. I was raped repeatedly as a kid (thus the PTSD) and assaulted in my freshman year of college. Just kissing can be a full on trigger for me. I thought about trying to lose my pseudo-virginity before my hysterectomy by asking a friend to help me out, but decided against it.
That’s not what this is about. First off, virginity is a societal construct. The hymen exists, but it doesn’t tear (or at least not permanently) and sex doesn’t have to hurt the first time. These ideas of female sexuality are way outdated, going as far back as when marriage was for land and cows and making sure your sperm were the only sperm that your wife was getting was important for reasons more than just fidelity.
So, if I’m not actively tying to lose my virginity, what am I doing? I’ll give you a hint: sometimes it involves things that buzz.
Masturbation, baby! That’s what I’m talking about (in more ways than one). Up until recently, I didn’t take time for literal self-love very often. We’re talking maybe a couple times a month. Maybe. Part of the reason was I was just busy and tired. There’s a lot going on and at the end of the day, I just want to sleep. Screw you, orgasms, am I right? The other, darker, part of my abstinence comes again from my sexual history. Nothing, I repeat nothing, kills an orgasm faster than a flashback. It helps that my sex drive is fairly low (I’m looking at you, anti-anxiety meds, because it certainly has been higher), so I didn’t really feel like I was missing out on much.
And then I said something that changed my mind. If you haven’t figured out, I’m pretty damn open about all this sex stuff, so it should come as no surprise that I talk about this with (some) of my friends. One brought up female masturbation. I said to him, “[…] masturbation is YOUR time.” That sentence changed my thinking quicker than I thought possible. Even though I was the one to write it, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I wasn’t taking time for myself.
If you’re not into masturbation, that’s totally okay. I wasn’t sure I was (and am kind of still on the fence about it). Every time I was masturbating, it wasn’t about my pleasure, but more of an intellectual pursuit to understand my body and how it might respond during sex with another person. I wasn’t aiming for orgasm, feeling good, any of that. I wanted to learn. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to learn, but neglecting yourself is a problem.
So, I decided to add sexual wellness to the list of physical stuff I’m trying to improve. I stopped caring about my O-face. I stopped caring about if a guy would do things this way or that. I stopped worrying about if my pubic hair looks better as a triangle or a landing strip. Instead, I started doing what I wanted. Sometimes it involves cheesy music. Sometimes there’s only buzzing. Sometimes there’s a bit of carpal tunnel (worth it). I’ve basically told myself that I will love myself three times a week. Period. End of story. I’m treating it as just as important as my cardio.
Here’s the thing: I learned something about myself. I wasn’t just “not masturbating,” I was actively avoiding it. Sure, I have the excuse of triggers, but I know most of them and know how to avoid them (also, how will I learn about other ones, if they exist?). I was putting my pleasure second – and I didn’t even have a partner to put first! It seems so absurd, but that’s the truth.
It’s only been about a week since I started doing this, but I’ve noticed a change in myself. I’m a little more confident, just a little. I’ve decided that I deserve pleasure, that I’m worthy of pleasure, so that’s what I’ll give myself. If that isn’t a confidence boost, I don’t know what is.